Ujamaa was the concept that formed the basis of Julius Nyerere
Julius Nyerere
Julius Kambarage Nyerere was a Tanzanian politician who served as the first President of Tanzania and previously Tanganyika, from the country's founding in 1961 until his retirement in 1985....

's social and economic development policies in Tanzania
The United Republic of Tanzania is a country in East Africa bordered by Kenya and Uganda to the north, Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west, and Zambia, Malawi, and Mozambique to the south. The country's eastern borders lie on the Indian Ocean.Tanzania is a state...

 just after it gained independence from Britain in 1961. In 1967, President Nyerere published his development blueprint, which was titled the Arusha Declaration
Arusha Declaration
The Arusha Declaration was made by Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere on 5 February 1967, outlining the principles of Ujamaa to develop the nation's economy...

, in which Nyerere pointed out the need for an African model of development and that formed the basis of African socialism
African socialism
African socialism is a belief in sharing economic resources in a "traditional" African way, as distinct from classical socialism. Many African politicians of the 1950s and 1960s professed their support for African socialism, although definitions and interpretations of this term varied...

. Ujamaa comes from the Swahili
Swahili language
Swahili or Kiswahili is a Bantu language spoken by various ethnic groups that inhabit several large stretches of the Mozambique Channel coastline from northern Kenya to northern Mozambique, including the Comoro Islands. It is also spoken by ethnic minority groups in Somalia...

 word for extended family or familyhood and is distinguished by several key characteristics, namely that a person becomes a person through the people or community.

Nyerere used Ujamaa as the basis for a national development project. He translated the Ujamaa concept into a political-economic management model through several means:
  1. The creation of a one-party system under the leadership of the Chama Cha Mapinduzi
    Chama Cha Mapinduzi
    The Chama cha Mapinduzi is the ruling political party of Tanzania.- History :The party was created February 5, 1977, under the leadership of Julius Nyerere as the merger of the Tanganyika African National Union , the then ruling party in Tanganyika, and the Afro-Shirazi Party , the then ruling...

     (CCM) in order to help solidify the cohesion of the newly independent Tanzania
    The United Republic of Tanzania is a country in East Africa bordered by Kenya and Uganda to the north, Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west, and Zambia, Malawi, and Mozambique to the south. The country's eastern borders lie on the Indian Ocean.Tanzania is a state...

  2. The institutionalization of social, economic, and political equality through the creation of a central democracy; the abolition of discrimination
    Discrimination is the prejudicial treatment of an individual based on their membership in a certain group or category. It involves the actual behaviors towards groups such as excluding or restricting members of one group from opportunities that are available to another group. The term began to be...

     based on ascribed status; and the nationalization
    Nationalisation, also spelled nationalization, is the process of taking an industry or assets into government ownership by a national government or state. Nationalization usually refers to private assets, but may also mean assets owned by lower levels of government, such as municipalities, being...

     of the economy's key sectors.
  3. The villagization
    Villagization is the resettlement of people into designated villages by government or military authorities....

     of production, which essentially collectivized all forms of local productive capacity.
  4. The fostering of Tanzanian self-reliance
    Self-sufficiency refers to the state of not requiring any outside aid, support, or interaction, for survival; it is therefore a type of personal or collective autonomy...

     through two dimensions: the transformation of economic and cultural attitudes. Economically, everyone would work for both the group and for him/herself; culturally, Tanzanians must learn to free themselves from dependence on European powers. For Nyerere, this included Tanzanians learning to do things for themselves and learning to be satisfied with what they could achieve as an independent state.
  5. The implementation of free and compulsory education
    Compulsory education
    Compulsory education refers to a period of education that is required of all persons.-Antiquity to Medieval Era:Although Plato's The Republic is credited with having popularized the concept of compulsory education in Western intellectual thought, every parent in Judea since Moses's Covenant with...

     for all Tanzanians in order to sensitize them to the principles of Ujamaa.

Julius Nyerere's leadership of Tanzania commanded international attention and attracted worldwide respect for his consistent emphasis upon ethical principles as the basis of practical policies. Tanzania under Nyerere made great strides in vital areas of social development: infant mortality was reduced from 138 per 1000 live births in 1965 to 110 in 1985; life expectancy at birth rose from 37 in 1960 to 52 in 1984; primary school enrolment was raised from 25% of age group (only 16% of females) in 1960 to 72% (85% of females) in 1985 (despite the rapidly increasing population); the adult literacy rate rose from 17% in 1960 to 63% by 1975 (much higher than in other African countries) and continued to rise.

Nyerere used a colonial law, the Preventive Detention Act to crush opposition.

In 1967, nationalizations transformed the government into the largest employer in the country. Purchasing power allegedly declined, and, according to World Bank researchers, high taxes and "bureaucracy" created an environment where bussinessmen resorted to evasion, bribery and corruption.

Eventually a number of factors contributed to the downfall of the development model based on the Ujamaa concept. Among those factors were the oil crisis
Oil crisis
Oil crisis may refer to:1970s*1970s energy crisis*1973 oil crisis*1979 energy crisisPost 1970s*Oil price increase of 1990*2000s energy crisis...

 of the 1970s, the collapse of export commodity prices (particularly coffee
Coffee is a brewed beverage with a dark,init brooo acidic flavor prepared from the roasted seeds of the coffee plant, colloquially called coffee beans. The beans are found in coffee cherries, which grow on trees cultivated in over 70 countries, primarily in equatorial Latin America, Southeast Asia,...

 and sisal
Sisal is an agave that yields a stiff fibre traditionally used in making twine, rope and also dartboards. The term may refer either to the plant or the fibre, depending on context...

), a lack of foreign direct investment, and the onset of the war with Uganda
Uganda-Tanzania War
The Uganda–Tanzania War was fought between Uganda and Tanzania in 1978–1979, and led to the overthrow of Idi Amin's regime...

 in 1978 which bled the young Tanzanian nation of valuable resources. By 1985 it was clear that Ujamaa had failed to lift Tanzania out of its poor economic state; Nyerere announced that he would retire voluntarily after presidential elections that same year.

The hip hop
Hip hop
Hip hop is a form of musical expression and artistic culture that originated in African-American and Latino communities during the 1970s in New York City, specifically the Bronx. DJ Afrika Bambaataa outlined the four pillars of hip hop culture: MCing, DJing, breaking and graffiti writing...

 scene in Tanzania was greatly influenced by the key ideas and themes of Ujamaa. In 1967, after President Nyerere introduced a new political ideology, which he promised would liberate Tanzanians from global imperialism, was abandoned by following Tanzanian politicians, the principles of Ujamaa were once again resurrected through "an unlikely source: rappers and hip hop artists in the streets of Tanzania." In response to years of corrupt government leaders and political figures after Nyerere, themes of unity and family and equality were the messages sent out in a majority of the music being produced. This was in response to the working class oppression and in some sense a form of resistance. The principles of cooperative economics —"local people cooperating with each other to provide for the essentials of living"— can be seen in the lyrics of many Tanzanian hip hop artists. They promote self-business and self-made identities in an effort to raise the spirits of the youth and promote change in society.

External links

  • Ujamaa: The Basis of African Socialism:, nathanielturner.com
  • Ibhawoh, Bonny and J.I. Dibua, in African Journal of Political Science Vol.8 No. 1, 2003: 59-83
  • Lawrence Cockcroft and Gerald Belkin, Ralph Ibbott: Who conceived/led the way to Ujamaa ? in Tanzanian Affairs Issue 92 Jan 2009
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